May and June are the hardest months of the year for finding original gift ideas. When you receive an invitation to a wedding or a graduation, it can be very difficult to buy an appropriate gift. Availability and the expense can also make gift buying difficult. I think I have an idea for you to make something that will be appreciated and useful, especially those who are going off to college. Laundry is a fact of life and what could be better than something to make that job easier - a laundry bag.
If you wrap this gift with a small box of laundry detergent, a bottle of spot remover, a box of clothes whitener or bleach, and a roll of quarters, you have given a very thoughtful gift, which will be well used and appreciated for a long time. Include a written set of instructions about sorting colors and washing temperatures.
1 1/4 yds fabric Thread to match Zipper (optional) 2 yds. drawstring or shoe lace
Letters for monogram or name ("iron on" from fabric store, fabric permanent pen or cross stitched using embroidery floss and a needle)
1. The fabric needs to be sturdy and a color that will not show the hard use it will get. Duck or denim works very well for these large laundry bags. Purchase enough fabric to make a bag that will hold at least one week's worth of laundry. Most heavy weight fabric is 54 in. to 60-in. wide, so 1 1/4 yds. should be enough. Use the full width of the fabric and the bag will measure about 29 in. by 40 in. Cut the fabric into two equal sized pieces using all the fabric. Cutting instead of just folding it in half will make zipper installation easier.
2. Before sewing the long side seam of the bag install a zipper into the bottom seam. This will allow for easy access on laundry day. You will be able to slide the clothes out of the bag while keeping them folded. The zipper should be long enough to open the bag from edge to edge or as wide as the drawstring end of the bag.
3. With right sides together sew the long edge of the bag from the zipper end to the other end. The two long seams should be reinforced with a second row of stitching because of the weight and the hard use this bag will receive.
4. The end opposite the zipper will be the end for a drawstring and possibly a loop to hang the bag in the closet or bathroom. Before turning this edge down and stitching the casing for the draw string, find the center of the narrow edge of the bag and mark it. An option for personalizing this laundry bag is to add the name or initials of the owner by either stitching or ironing on a set of letters to this top edge. Another idea for this part of the project would be to purchase a paint pen suitable for fabric and use this to monogram the bag. Center the letters across the width of the fabric after deciding which technique you will use and be sure to leave enough room to do the next step. **** It might be easier to do this step before you sew the side seams. ****
5. Make a sturdy loop from a strip of the fabric or from a strap of leather and position this hanger toward the top edge and side seam of the bag. Having a loop to hang the bag rather than hanging it from the drawstring makes access to putting clothes in it easier. This hanger can be sewn now or after the next step but be sure to double the stitching so that it will hold the weight of a full bag of laundry.
6. Using the iron, turn a narrow hem in the top edge and then another turn will form the casing for a drawstring. This casing should be wide enough to get a heavy shoe lace or sturdy cording through without any difficulty so turn it down approx. 1 - 2 inches.
7. Carefully open a few stitches of the side seam that is encased in the turned down edge of the casing and this will allow you to thread the drawstring into the casing. Make the drawstring long enough so that the bag can be fully opened with 12 inches extra. Tie knots in the ends of the draw strings and then tie the draw string together so that it isn't accidentally pulled back through the casing.
With this great laundry bag, the quarters, and the detergent maybe Mom won't have to do the student's laundry on weekends when he or she comes home. Good Luck!